Paul Martin and his team of experts look back at bargain buys from the series, including an exquisite Italian necklace that had been hidden away for years.
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Over the last 11 years on Flog It, we've made nearly 1,000 shows.
We've seen literally hundreds of thousands of items
and we've helped you sell around £1 million worth of antiques and collectables.
So, in this series, I want to share with you
some of the information and knowledge that we've collected
to help you get in the know. Welcome to Flog It! Trade Secrets.
On today's show, we're giving you the inside track on bargain buys,
how to spot them and where to buy them,
and also what you might have in your house
that could be worth a small fortune.
'We'll be looking at some of the best bargain buys Flog It has ever seen.'
But lucky her!
'Our experts pass on their wisdom to help you bag a bargain of your own.'
Quality and the unusual and you can't go wrong.
'Stay watching and all will be revealed.'
There's one thing we love to see on Flog It - the bargain buys.
And I've learned that you have to keep your eyes peeled at all times
because there are wonderful treasures out there just waiting to be picked up
for as little as a few pounds in charity shops,
car-boot sales, auction rooms and antique shops.
It's staggering what's out there.
'So, what are our experts' secrets for getting a bargain?'
The important thing is to look everywhere.
A fair or a car-boot, look under the table or at the bottom of the box.
Look even behind the vendor. They may not have unpacked a box
and you might spot something poking out behind them that you can show an interest. So use your eyes.
Buy something that nobody else knows.
You've got to get down on your hands and knees,
rummage under tables, have a good rummage through those boxes.
It feels like Christmas every day when you're having a good rummage.
So here are some of our very best finds
and what you can learn from them.
Often on Flog It, people bring in things
which they have bought maybe at a car-boot sale
or in a charity shop.
And it's always wonderful when these things go to auction
and get enormous prices. And I had one such item.
This is a very interesting little brooch.
I think it's absolutely gorgeous.
In fact, I think it might just suit my jacket.
The lady had picked it up because she liked it and she found it attractive.
I actually got it in an adjacent town at a car-boot sale
within the last 12 months. It was just lying there on the stall.
Apparently there'd been a lot of really good stuff.
He said, "You've missed it all." That was just there and it was £4.
-£4. That's not a lot of money.
-No. Indeed, no.
When I first looked at it, I thought it might have been Russian,
but when we looked at the marks on the back,
we realised that it had been made by Marius Hammer,
who was one of the most prestigious Norwegian silversmiths.
We have an M and a little hammer.
And we have the mark 930,
which is the silver mark.
The Norwegians and the Swedish were wonderful with enamelled work
and this is representing that type of work.
'This was a highly collectable item.'
I couldn't believe that she'd only paid £4 for it.
It's a very finely-crafted piece.
We have a maker's name.
-It's in the original box.
Taking all these factors into account,
I would estimate it 80 to 120.
-So it was quite a good investment for £4.
-It certainly was, wasn't it?
'Scandinavian jewellery appeals to collectors
'because of the quality.'
The quality was always there and the design was always there.
'At £4, that brooch was a real steal.
'But was it the car-boot bargain of the day that Anita thought?'
100. And 10.
-120. 130. 140.
150. 160. 170.
180. At £180, are we all done?
You see, a lot of people don't know the value of 20th-century modern...
It's like darts! 180!
What I always say to people is, see if you can spot the unusual items -
the items that make you think, "What's that?" or, "That's amazing!"
So quality and the unusual
and you can't go wrong.
'Great advice from Anita there.
'What about David Fletcher's trade secrets?'
The lesson is, I think, that you turn these things upside-down,
you look for silver marks, you look for gold marks,
manufacturer's marks and so on.
You know, use what knowledge you've got
and use the very business of going to car-boot sales to improve that knowledge.
Wow, this is a stylish thing, isn't it?
A cigarette lighter, of course.
Tell me how you came to own it.
Well, last year we were at a car-boot sale and wandering around
and picked it up because I thought it was a cute piece
which was up for sale for £7.
-Yes. And the boyfriend bartered it down to £4.
Outrageous. But lucky her!
I'm pretty certain it's by Dunhill, and what's more,
it looks to me that it was made between the wars.
It's sort of in the Art Deco style.
Reminds me a bit of a skyscraper.
You know, that very modern style of architecture that was sweeping America in the 1930s.
Very understated base
and capital, really, echoing the sort of architectural theme.
But above all else, it's just a cool thing to own.
Smoking was in itself stylish.
And that particular cigarette lighter was one of the earliest ones to be manufactured
so you could just use one hand.
There's a sort of elegance about it, isn't there, really?
It's funny that we should associate it with smoking,
which is today not considered to be politically correct or in itself at all elegant.
It's clearly marked Dunhill
and it also states on the base, "Cartier Licence"
so that means it was made under licence to a Cartier design.
And we also have the assay mark,
which tells us that it's nine-carat gold.
Cartier is one of those big brands.
I think it was Edward VII who said,
"Cartier is a jeweller for kings and the king of jewellers."
And very fitting that a Dunhill lighter,
which itself is a brand associated with quality and style and class,
should in this instance tie up with Cartier.
I think it's worth somewhere between £250 and £350.
'But how much did this bargain buy go for?'
A nine-carat gold Dunhill Cartier tallboy lighter.
London, 1934, with the engine-turn case.
I've got two commission bids.
-I'm starting it at 4...
460 starts me.
-At 460. 480 now.
At 460. At 460.
-Well, your chap turned a good profit on that.
-Yes, he did.
The auction finished very quickly. I was very surprised.
But that's the way it is. There were bidders out there who wanted it
and they were falling over themselves to buy it.
'Not bad for a £4 investment.
'Now, one of my top tips is always look for a good name,
'like Cartier or Dunhill.
'There's an immediate cachet and value.'
'In 2006, Thomas Plant found a real bargain and a real haggler.'
How much did you pay for it at the car-boot sale?
The lady wanted £8 but I negotiated down to a fiver.
Why was that? Why was the negotiation in there?
Because it's sort of like a matter of principle, really.
If you're a car-booter, you always want to get the best deal.
When they've told you they'd bought it for a fiver,
they're either really relaxed
or become incredibly greedy
and want everything for it, want the top, top dollar.
I found it at a car-boot sale last summer, rummaging around,
and I knew it was something nice, but I didn't know exactly what it was.
Richard was very relaxed and a very affable man.
It's a piece of Art Nouveau pewter made by the factory Kayserzinn.
Kayserzinn is a German manufacturer.
They made pewter in the Art Nouveau style
in the late 19th, early 20th century.
Now, we can call it Art Nouveau, or the German word, which is Jugendstil.
-The young style. And it's got all the typical attributes
of any Art Nouveau or Jugendstil piece.
You have the sinuous flowing lines here,
which the fish have made through swimming in it, and then the other interesting thing is the decoration.
The decoration is asymmetrical. That's very typical of the Art Nouveau period.
-Do you know where that comes from?
..or Japanese design and Chinese is asymmetrical.
If you look at their designs, they don't always fold.
Here in the West, we love things which match.
We're obsessed by it. Look at our mantelpieces.
-Fire, mirror, vases. Match, fold them on each other.
And here, they've really sort of turned it on its head.
Decoration here, bulrushes, and then some more here.
It would've been better if you had a naked lady on here,
which is a real femme fatale,
real motif of the Art Nouveau period. But they were interested in nature.
And this shows that this is a fish dish, it's got fish on it.
I think I was quite mean with my estimate.
What do you think it's worth?
Well, I guess £25, £30, something like that.
I think a bit more. I think 40 to 60, something like that.
-That's good news.
-Cos it's a popular thing, Art Nouveau.
He was going to spend his £40 on wine, women and squander the rest, I think.
'That's my kind of man. So how much did that bargain platter,
'picked up for £5, make at auction?'
We've got this pewter fish dish.
130. 140. 150. 160.
-This is good.
-For £200, then.
-That's superb! Good find!
-Thank you very much.
It made a whopping £200 at auction. Well done him.
And in the end, he gave the money to charity.
'Even if you don't know anything about an antique, don't be put off.
'You may find the thing you like could be worth a small fortune.
'Elizabeth Talbot came across something special
'which proved to be just such a thing.'
What can you tell me about your wonderful sugar caster?
Erm, all I can tell you is that I got it from a car-boot
probably about four years ago,
and I just liked it so I bought it for a fiver.
-It was £7.50.
-And you beat them down.
On the bottom, Moorcroft with a signature
and the "Made in England" impressed into the bottom.
So it's beautifully documented.
And it's amazing nobody else spotted it. You must have been secretly jumping up and down.
-Well, I didn't know what it was.
-I just assumed it was something to do with sugar or flour.
When they know nothing at all, you have a clean sheet
with which to unveil the true story for them,
and that's really, really satisfying.
As a professional valuer and cataloguer,
that gives real satisfaction on a personal level.
The use of the combination with pewter
links it back to the early days when, in the early 1900s,
they produced a lot of items for outlets such as Liberty's,
and I was rather hoping that I'd find a Liberty mark on this
but I can't find any stamp on that.
But certainly the combination suggests that it's a nice early 20th-century example.
In terms of a piece of Moorcroft, anything which is culinary
or, sort of, more unusual
obviously is quite a find.
One tends to find bowls and vases,
whereas a sugar caster is a little bit more exciting.
Pieces which were more intricate or more unusual
'were made is smaller numbers
'and therefore, by definition, there were fewer to start with,'
so they have greater value.
I'd have said it should make between 300 and £400 quite comfortably.
-And it might do a little bit more,
but 300 to 400 I think is a realistic pre-auction estimate.
-It's a good return for a £5 note.
'Well, let's see.'
-That's such a good spot in an old junk shop, was it?
-No, a car-boot.
-260. 280. 300.
-It's climbing, Sue.
-300 this side.
320. 340. 360.
It's nice when something just takes off
and you feel it's caught the imagination of the market.
It literally is electric in the room.
-At 840. 860. 880.
-Are you all right?
-950. Make it 1,000.
At 1,000. At £1,000!
-Done, then, at £1,000?
-You're going to settle for that, aren't you?
It's wonderful to see the response of the owner who is selling,
because in many cases, it's true delight from them, too.
-How fantastic is that?
So here's what we've learnt so far.
'Look for quality and good names.
'Don't be afraid to try and haggle down the price.
'And buy things which appeal to you personally.
'That sugar shaker proved to be a brilliant buy.
'Bought for £5 and sold for £1,000.'
'A canny shopper can usually pick up a bargain
'if they know what to look for.'
So here's another trade secret.
I think, to a new collector, it's always going to be a spoon.
But in this case, a particular type of spoon.
At the moment, 18th-century table spoons are very undervalued.
And you can still buy beautiful examples like this.
This is a Newcastle spoon, old English pattern,
made by Langlands & Robertson in 1778.
And you can see, it's got an absolutely pristine set of hallmarks
on the back of the stem.
The bowl's got its original tip,
there's no wear, there's no damage to it.
And when that was made, it would be the equivalent today of £300 or £400.
£50, £60 will buy that.
And actually, in scrap weight in just the silver,
if you went over it with a steam roller,
there's £38 worth of silver in it, so you're actually paying £12 or £22
for an 18th-century masterpiece.
So it's very undervalued at the moment.
Probably not after this goes out. There'll be a stampede and they'll be £500 each.
But if you want to start collecting silver, which is always prohibitively expensive,
this is where the smart money is at the moment.
At every valuation day,
our experts wow us with their depth and breadth of knowledge.
They seem to know pretty much everything.
But where does all this expertise come from?
We're spending the day with Flog It favourite Philip Serrell,
who learned to buy and sell bargains wheeling and dealing on the hoof.
I think the expression is,
"Worcester born, Worcester bred,
"strong on the arm, thick in the head."
I've spent the whole of my life in and around the county and I really, really love it.
50 then, at 50, please. At 5, down at 45...
I started in Worcester livestock market
and my first boss was a very, very forgetful man
and he told me to come to work on the Monday morning
wearing a pin-stripe suit, so I did.
First day at work, he sent me to the market, here.
And I ended up in one of these pens in a 48-hour-old pin-stripe suit.
And, well, without going into too much detail,
you can see what the back end of a sheep looks like in this weather.
Most of it was deposited all over my brand-new suit.
I can look back at this now quite fondly, but at the time,
up to your thighs in the back end of a sheep, not good.
At 45 here. 6. 7.
47 bid. Right the way...
My very first day, I can remember
watching the sheep and the cattle being sold
and I swear, it was about four months before I ever saw anybody bid.
You come to the refined atmosphere of a fine art auction room
and everyone's holding their paddle like this.
You try and spot a bidder here. It's all...
It's all this stuff. It's done it code.
It's a secret society, I'm convinced of it.
The thing about animals and me is
they either kick me or they bite me.
Vases don't do that.
I think the thing that does it for me about being an auctioneer
is the people that you meet.
But also, for that short period of time before you sell something,
you have a massive, ever-changing collection of items.
And it's the opportunity to perhaps hold things and see things and appreciate things
and they're yours for that very instant of time before you sell them, and that's lovely.
It's not so much what something is
but it's the social history of something.
It's not the chair but it's whose bum's been on the chair,
and that's what I love.
Most people think of house clearances -
big castles and country houses,
but sometimes ordinary properties need clearing, and this is an example.
I first came here about three years ago to look at a single item
and now the family want me to advise them on clearing what's left in this property.
HE KNOCKS ON DOOR
-This was my mother-in-law's house.
-So basically, all of her belongings are here.
-All of her belongings.
-And you now need it just cleared.
-We just need it cleared.
-I have found...
-Is that a Wedgwood service?
It IS a Wedgwood service. So is that silver?
-What do you reckon?
-Hmm...it's quite heavy.
-So am I.
A spider's nest.
In truth, I don't think there's too much of massive value in here.
But you never know what you're going to find, do you? Let's see what else we can come across.
My mother-in-law claimed she wasn't a hoarder but her father was.
There are some things in life that are assets and there are some things that are liabilities,
and I think a lot of this falls into the... Although, that's nice. That's an old croquet set, 19th-century.
-And a set of crown green bowls.
I wanted the Beano, the Dandy, the Hornet or the Victor, right?
And my dad made me have Look And Learn cos he thought it would make me intellectual. He failed.
Ooh. Here we are. I can see through those. I'm going to keep these.
That's interesting. If I'm right, that's a microscope in there.
-Well, she was a scientist.
-A horticulturalist, so she did a lot of botany and biology.
That would be quite exciting, if that was her microscope, wouldn't it?
Let's have a look. Oh, that's cool, isn't it?
That's just fantastic. For me, this is the crown jewels.
So what are these in here? These are her slides.
Don't know what that is. What on earth is that?
-What do you think that is?
-Could be spores from a mushroom.
-Did you know this was here?
-Here's a decision for you.
-There's so much that I didn't know about.
-So is this going to stop or go?
-It can go.
I've got to tell you, if I was in your shoes, I'd struggle to sell that.
The but is,
if you didn't sell it and you were sentimental and you kept it,
what's going to happen to it? Well, you'd do that...
and then you'd put it under a bed or on top of the wardrobe
and it probably would never see light of day again.
And the one thing she did say before she died
was not to keep things just because they were hers
but to make sure that somebody else who might enjoy them got the opportunity to have them.
That was a lovely job to do. And the real joy is, you get back to the saleroom
and you just never know what surprise you're going to find when you start unwrapping things.
So, fingers crossed.
At most auctions there's often one sale which takes everybody's breath away,
and, like you, I want to find out more about how one object
can change the life for its owner.
So here's one that really stands out for me.
'Sometimes the biggest bargains of all are those lurking in your own home.
'Unloved and unwanted antiques
'can be the key to fulfilling your dreams.
'Barbara, who came to our Stockport valuation day,
'was one of those lucky ones.'
Why should I settle down when I'm still quite active and fit
and I want to see these countries and I have the opportunity to see them?
-this has been in pride of place in your jewellery box, is that right?
-Erm, not quite.
I had a necklace from my mother which I'd never seen her wear
and I didn't really like it.
So we decided to take it to Flog It.
Where's it been all these years?
It's been in a little box, in a polythene bag,
buried under my waterproofs as a hiding place.
Well, I think that's disgraceful!
-To keep such an elegant piece of jewellery under your waterproofs.
-That's all right. We'll forgive you. You brought them in. You've redeemed yourself!
They're not British, they are Italian.
Now, the Italians and the Romans have been making this sort of jewellery
for hundreds and hundreds of years.
They've been using mosaics and micro-mosaics,
and this is what we have here.
-We have little micro-mosaics set into, I think, cornelian...
-..which is a type of agate.
And we have little panels of birds
and then some sort of classical scene and then another bird.
-And a matching pair of earrings with birds in them again.
And they sit beautifully here,
as we can see, with these little gold swags.
And on the back we've got a little swing.
I mean, they're lovely quality.
In terms of date,
I think they're going to date to the Edwardian period.
-Value. I'd like to put 200 to 300 on them.
-Would that be OK with you?
-That would be lovely.
And we'll put a 200 discretionary reserve cos we don't want to give them away.
-Oh, no, no.
-We don't want them to sell for nothing.
-Is there a long-held ambition you'd like to put it towards?
I've always had fascination for Japan.
I wouldn't spend it on the house and things.
The things I've got will last me.
One is getting older.
You can cut that bit out. SHE LAUGHS
It was fantastic. We went early so we could get the atmosphere
and see what was happening and see how the things were being sold.
It was great.
Going under the hammer, the most exquisite micro-mosaic necklace and earrings belonging to Barbara
who needs to go to Japan.
And then when it was my turn,
it started off OK, I was all excited.
It's a lovely lot, this, a 19th-century yellow metal necklace
with the micro-mosaic hard stone panels with the matching earrings.
Micro-mosaic stuff's making great prices at the moment, I find,
and very, very popular. And what a lovely set this is.
Lot 760. I'm bid £200. Take 220 next.
-Straight in at 200.
-60. 80. 400. 20. 40. 60. 80. 500.
-This is flying.
And then when it went above a certain price, the whole place was so quiet.
520. 540. 560. 580. 600. And 20. 640.
-660. 680. 700 here. And 20.
It was amazing.
-This is an upgrade.
-This is an upgrade from economy.
Hey! This is wonderful!
£1,000. And 50.
-First class soon.
-Do you know Japanese for "this is absolutely bonkers"?
1,650 on the phone.
-At £1,650. Are you all done, then?
-What did we value it at?
-200 to 300.
Absolutely amazing. I got a round of applause at the end of it as well.
Do you know, I just love it when that happens. Well done, Adam Partridge, as well.
'With her fantastic Flog It windfall,
'Barbara was able to go on and book her ticket to ride.'
It was beautiful. It was cherry blossom time.
Beautiful buildings. But we did go down a river which was like white-water rafting.
Very exciting...and scary. SHE LAUGHS
'Barbara brought back enough memories and souvenirs to last a lifetime.'
This is what I do when I get up.
I put on...my dressing gown.
Which reminds me of being in Kyoto and Japan.
And it is absolutely...beautiful.
'So, go on, search your home.
'You could be sitting on some treasure and not even know it.'
Well, that's it for today's show.
And if we've learnt anything on Flog It, it's take nothing for granted.
I hope we've given you some inspiration and some insider tips
on how to root out your very own bargains.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Who loves a bargain more than Paul Martin and the Flog It! experts? This shows some of the lucky finds that have earned their owners big money including an exquisite Italian necklace, hidden away for years.